I didn't want to lose him at 60.
I didn't want my little Sister to celebrate her 30th birthday 3 days after his death.
I didn't want to celebrate my 33rd a month later.
I don't want to have a Christmas with out him.
or Labor Day or Memorial Day.
Mom doesn't want to have an Anniversary without him.
I don't want to get married without him. (Though God himself is the only one who knows if that will even happen.)
I don't want to buy a house without him. (If I ever actually want to do that.)
And I feel guilty. Because I think some part of me knew within that first week or two that he wasn't gonna make it. Just one of those weird intuition things. I really only had hope for about 4-5 days between the first oncology appointment when they said they believed it was colon cancer and the day they called to say it was not colon cancer. And even in that, I know that my hope was a desperate kind of hope, that clinging hard to a life raft because you are absolutely certain that your life depends on it kind of hope. The hope against hope that your intuition is wrong.
I laid on this very couch with the pillow that is currently next to me and begged God to let us keep him. To do a Huge Dramatic Crazy Miracle and heal my Daddy. And even in the desperation of that begging I felt the answer was going to be No. And I completely soaked through the pillow with my tears.
I said often in those first weeks that I've had a few losses. That I "know" how to do this grief thing. I have a degree in Social Work for goodness sake! And to be honest, a part of me knew that wasn't enough. A part of me knew that I did not actually know how to do this. A part of me knew that this was gonna be really really hard. That I would struggle to find the right words to try to describe this intensity and depth and .... soul-wrenching-sad-isn't-a-strong-enough-word feeling that hits me. It's almost like I would imagine a punch in the gut would be, but with no real corresponding physical outward sensation.
I would go to church and we'd do worship and on some subconscious level I felt like I was pre-training myself to be able to worship after the loss. I did the same when I went up to campus for InterVarsity large groups. I semi-consciously forced myself to either set my reality aside or to worship in spite of it, almost as if he were already gone. I guess it worked. I'm still able to Praise God. I'm still able to say that God is Good. It makes me sob, but I can say that God only gives Good Gifts to his children, that He has a plan for us.
And I have regrets. I'd love to say I don't, but I do. I wish I'd hugged him more. I wish I'd kissed him more. I wish I'd pushed harder to just spend time with him. I wish I'd asked about the Journal in a Jar I gave him to get him to write more down. I wish I'd spent time over there every single day those last few weeks. And maybe if I'd known it was only going to be 7 weeks, I might have.
I wish I'd given him the letter I wrote telling him I wanted him to fight, but I didn't want to keep him here miserable either. Because what if?
And I know the pat answers. I know God is in control and all the other stuff you might say to that. But in the middle of the night when you're missing your Daddy, you can't help but wonder if your words might have made a difference.
And people try to say such nice things. Things about how they are going to change their ways because the shock of this has woken them up, so to speak.
A cousin said he wanted to be around more and spend time with our extended family. Which is great, but in the darkest moments I think "I would never see that cousin again if it meant I could have 20 more years with my Dad. Hell I'd give up seeing the entire family ever again to have Dad back."
One friend said that this might be a really "creative" time for me because I said how writing is how I process and get through things. And I think "I would never put another word in writing anywhere ever for the rest of my days if it meant I could have my Dad walk me down the aisle."
Even myself, I've said that 'you really figure out who your true, solid friends are when something like this happens.' But when I lay on the couch sobbing and soaking a pillow all the way through I think "I'd keep up two dozen crappy, horrible friendships for the rest of my life if I could have my Daddy not be in a casket."
I never understood before why people wanted to lay down on top of a grave.
I have even tried to tell myself that I am now the one walking this road ahead of most of my friends and I will be "prepared" to walk with them through it when they lose their own parents. and I think "I DON'T WANT TO HELP THEM!!!"
I've never been that great at asking for help. Sometimes I'm fine with asking certain people or certain tasks don't bother me. But some do. And if the person says No, sometimes I go into a serious tailspin mentally and emotionally. Because what does that mean? do they not like me? Are they mad at me? is it truly just a bad time? should I bother to ask again? But no matter what I asked my Dad, including the handful of times he said no or didn't help immediately, i knew it didn't mean anything else. I knew it wasn't a reflection on me or how he felt about me. It was just timing, or a task he didn't look forward to doing, but would do anyway. And people say "If you need anything ....." But how do you UNtrain 30 years of habitual thoughts?
How do you ask someone to check the oil in you car without having a meltdown when they try to teach you instead of just doing it?
How do you ask someone if they have a drill and then to come over to hang one picture, because that's all you need hung right now, one picture?
How do you ask someone else to deal with getting and setting up mouse traps because you want to "be the girl" and just not deal with it?
People told me before that I was too independent .....
How do I justify asking for help with housework when I was never a decent housekeeper to begin with?
How do I justify asking for help rearranging when logically I am certain I can accomplish it eventually on my own? And, more importantly, I would not have asked him to help with that, so why should I ask you?
How do I ask for help when I don't even know what it is that I need?
How do you ask someone to just sit with you while you sob uncontrollably? Like the seriously ugly cry? where you drool and your snot flows freely and you gasp and heave for breath? How do you ask someone to sit with you during that??? How do you admit that's how you spent your night?????
How can things seem so fine and normal? How did I go for a 9 mile bike ride two times this week and didn't even notice the feeling of loss???
How do I find a new normal? a new equilibrium? a new ok? How can I post this for all of you to read??? How can I bare my can't-see-straight grief??? How can I admit that tonight I'm not doing ok, not ok at all. I guess because I feel like putting all this down in writing. Sharing it for my friends and anyone else grieving to see. Getting it out of my head and letting the tears flow and the eyes swell and the face get seriously contorted in grief, that is the way through. That is the only way to take a step or half step towards equilibrium. That is my new normal. This is what my life is right now. And this is what my life will be for awhile. And even if it makes me cry, I have to keep reminding myself that it is ok. All of what I'm feeling and writing is ok. And, today, I am still breathing, I haven't given up. I'm just grieving and whatever that looks like (short of utter incapacitation or suicidal thoughts) is ok.
"Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning...
breathe in and out all day long.
Then, after a while
I won't have to remind myself
to get out of bed every morning
and breathe in and out"